After my first post on the liquors and spirits, I was wondering if people might have thought I was trying to pull the high brow thing with “drinking like a man.” No, I’m not. I love beer. I even love pear beer. Part of drinking like a man involves being secure and open to all types of different beer and finding the right one for just the right time. Beer, much like cuisine, is very seasonal and I feel people shy away from tasting what a season may specifically offer. Nowadays, people are starting to find out that domestic (with all the new found microbrew enthusiasm) doesn’t have to be shitty (though it can be) and variety in selection is so essential to a good bar. I feel that people care now about the quality of their beer more than ever.
Here are some simple rules for enjoying beer:
1. Embrace boldness, try something different.
2. Decipher your mood/season and drink accordingly.
3. You don’t HAVE to drink domestic.
4. Beer that looks closer to the color of piss, probably tastes closer to it.
5. The type of glassware you drink beer in, does matter.
6. Bedtime rules don’t apply. Head: there is such a thing as too much.
7. Casked beers rock. (see rule below)
8. Complexity is only bad in relationships, not beer.
9. Beers can be sweet, tart, bitter, earthy, toasty, spicy (not hot, but full of spice rather) just like regular food can be – imagine that! Find out what makes them taste that way: yeast, malt, hops, process, etc..
10. Ask your bartender for a recommendation. Doesn’t hurt.
I’m not really going to start going into the hundreds of variations of different beers in different countries. That would be pointless. But, here are some of my favorites likened to some of my favorite women in the world (again, these are my favorites):
The Marissa Miller of Beers
Unibroue Blanche De Chambly – The Blanche is my favorite beer from arguably my favorite brewing company in the world. Unibroue (yes, I think it sounds like unibrow) is located in Quebec and they make some very unique and complex beers. It tastes like summer with a hint of citrus, but it doesn’t sit nearly as heavy, syrupy or wheat-y as a hefeweisen. They have fun medieval packaging too which adds to their somewhat gothic bottle look. Look out for bigger bottles of their specialty cask beers and their ginormous tasting La Fin Du Monde, a triple golden ale that has the copper rich opening of an IPA without any of the lingering bitterness finish.
The Zooey Deschanel of Beers
Hitachino Red Rice Nest Ale – This Japanese beer is most recognized by its too cute little owl on its label. They also have a really good white It’s stupidly expensive and but its a balanced, nuanced and tasty pale ale. Is it me or are the Japanese slowly out-crafting everyone at everything. For some reason, you can’t always explain why its so good, but I know it charms the shit out of me.
The Tina Fey of Beers
Boddington’s English Pub Ale – My favorite UK beer is technically closer to that of a “bitter” beer than anything, but it’s not actually very bitter (just a tinge of copper). It’s not very dense, seemingly less so than a pale ale, and it has this creamy soft finish as if you were tasting a light vanilla froth. It’s all substance with this beer. It’s pretty rare on tap so I’ve really had a hard time finding it in bars, but its oh-so good.
The Christina Hendricks of Beers
Van Steenburge Gulden Draak – This is a Belgium brown ale/beer with the most lush and rich flavors. It tastes toasty, earthy and fruity at the same time with a little tart finish to it (like cherry). On top of all that awesome flavor, it has the coolest bottle/logo combo ever. White bottles and its signature golden dragon in front. Truly, an intimidating and deafeningly loud statement that I am here to rock your world.
The Monica Bellucci of Beers
Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout – It’s toasty, nutty and utterly indulgent. It’s big without being ostentatious. There is overlying darkness to it, but there is light sweetness. Stout lovers will complain of the lack of bitterness or dark espresso flavors, but that’s all relative when compared to some of the more (over)burnt malt beers/stouts (mainly nitpicking, if you ask me). You may find things about it that could be more in tune with your palate, but you’d be pressed to find something that’s made just as good. It’s a classic old school sexiness with a dominating appeal across the board for light or dark beer drinkers.
Honorable Mentions: Allagash White, Chimay, Delirium Tremens, Harpoon Winter Warmer, Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, St. Bernardus ABT 12, Newcastle Nut Brown Ale, Bridgeport Stumptown Tart, CBC Charles River Porter, Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, Ommegang Three Philosophers